There's this guy, see, and he has this job as a reporter...

I just switched from DirecTV to Time Warner cable for a variety of reasons. First, my phone, internet and TV are all on one (still too large) combined bill, but I'm paying around the same amount as I was for the DirecTV, Verizon phone and DSL combo, and I get more for my money.

Faster internet, unlimited long distance and more reliable television. My satellite dish was ridiculous. It seemed like my television and Superman's powers had the same thing in common -- they both shit the bed every time a cloud blocked off Earth's yellow sun.

Speaking of Superman, the other thing I hated about DirectTV was their guide -- before this, I had Dish Network, and the info on the movie always showed who starred in it, and gave a good description of what the movie was about. DirectTV didn't even try most of the time, although they were getting a little better lately about showing you most of the cast information. The descriptions were still pretty pathetic, and sometimes less than useless. Here's an example from the other day that made me laugh:

So here we have a movie called "Superman" and yet the man's story seems somehow...completely less-than-super. It's the story of an alien from another planet, growing up on earth only to get tied down to the same kind of crappy 9-5 job that most of us have. I don't know about you, but watching someone slowly become a reporter just sounds boring. I mean, if you substitute Erie, PA for Krypton and Albany, NY for Earth, it's basically my life.

I don't know if the writer just assumes everyone already knows the story of Superman so he doesn't feel the need to tell us anything at all about the whole "super" part, or if he's just so bored shitless at his depressing job of writing info blurbs for DirecTV that he doesn't even try anymore.

I'm leaning toward the second explanation, because if it were the first, I assume he'd write something like, "Hello? Faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? It's SUPERMAN, for god's sake. You all know this story, and it's freaking awesome so watch this movie right now."

Instead, I'm picturing this guy in a small, cramped office, somewhere in orbit,* hunched over an old PC, typing away with two fingers while he contemplates hanging himself when he gets back to the planet surface where that would actually work.

Here are some others I imagined he'd write, given the chance:

Peter Parker, part-time photographer and full-time loser, barely makes ends meet after his uncle dies.

Young Bruce Wayne unexpectedly inherits the vast family fortune.

Diana Prince has a fight with her mother and leaves home.

Bruce Banner deals with his guilt and his anger management problem.

Steve Rogers, a skinny fine arts major, is rejected by the army.

Frank Castle and his family enjoy a relaxing picnic in Central Park.

First one to name them all gets a prize.

And no cheating. Or I'll send that blind lawyer guy over to your house to litigate your ass.

*where my direcTV signal comes from


Who voted for this assclown?

I had something funny planned for tonight, but my mood was altered when Yort sent me a text this evening about my knife, a spyderco Delica.

It turns out that the little pocket knife I've been carrying for the last 15 years is now
illegal according to Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Watch this video -- if the guy were any more sanctimonious he'd be kissing his own ass in a fit of congratulatory passion.

This is completely ridiculous, and right now I'm so pissed off and ashamed that I actually live in this fucked up state that I feel like taking a shit on the capitol steps and then moving someplace else where the people making the laws don't have manicures and aren't bat-shit crazy.

Talk about a waste of manpower and taxpayer money....My conservative guess is that 99.99% of the people buying a knife in EMS are probably not going to go out the next day and rob someone at knife point. And the media buys right into it, showing crap like that.

He also made a big deal about how 19 of the 59 homicides in Manhattan in 2009 were stabbings, but he conveniently left out how many of those were actually committed using a folding knife. My guess would be that NY statistics are about the same as those of the rest of the country, and majority of fatal stabbings were committed with kitchen knives.

This was a blatant shakedown, pure and simple. He successfully extorted over 1.9 million dollars from Home Depot, Eastern Mountain Sports and others -- over half of it for Manhattan.

The undercover video is a joke, as is his little knife display for the press conference. I'd say over half the knives I see on that table don't fit the legal definition of switchblade or gravity knife, and therefore should not be illegal to carry in NY State. It reminds me of the scene in Atlas Shrugged where Henry Reardon realizes the laws aren't being enacted for any other reason than to make criminals out of people who weren't the day before.

If Vance wants to pretend to do something for his salary, maybe Manhattan should have separate knife laws, and he should just leave the rest of the state out of his little imaginary world where he is saving the planet from wrong-doers. What's next? Outlawing walking sticks, or maybe screwdrivers?

Sorry for the rant. Ted Nugent notwithstanding, I gave these guys and these guys some money today.

I use my knife at least a few times a day, and in the last 15 years, the only person I've stabbed with it has been myself. WTF.


Batman? Little help here?

I walked out onto my porch a couple of weeks ago, and a bird flew right by my head. It was a robin, and it sat on top of the garage roof and scolded me. I was wondering why, until I noticed that she had made a nest on the porch, in a flower pot we had hanging on the porch post:

I don't know why she would make the nest there -- it was basically in the open and any critter that wanted an easy meal could just hop up on the railing and chow down. I mean, I myself wouldn't eat them because they look like they'd probably be a little prickly going down, but there are cats in the neighborhood.

The proud parents were feeding them non-stop, and it was the first time I had ever witnessed this up close and personal, and trust me, you would not want to eat any of the things the adult robins brought home for dinner. Earthworms? Not so much. Nasty looking green grubs and weird looking insects -- I have no clue where the hell they were digging these things up, but dear god -- it was like stuff from another planet.

I found the whole thing fascinating, so I set my tripod and camera up next to the window, and whenever I thought about it, I'd snap a few shots. It was pretty incredible how fast they grew -- in just a few days they went from barely being able to hold their heads up, to this:

Here's an example of a fine gourmet meal:

After a few days of this, I noticed something odd. The babies would take the food, and then they would... well...give something back. It happened very quickly, so the first time, I thought I imagined it. After I saw it for the third time, I was sure. There was a split second where the adult robin would duck her head down, and quickly grab something, then swallow it. I managed to get a shot of it happening:

It looked like a fuzzball, or some compacted down or something. I figured maybe the fuzzy hair from the chicks was building up in the bottom. So I looked it up on the internet.

Big mistake.

Each newborn defecates within seconds of feeding. Four baby birds defecating forty times a day is a big mess. Although nestlings don’t come with diapers, Mother Nature understands the health risks of a nest littered with droppings and created the next best thing.

Each of the approximate one hundred sixty daily droppings comes neatly enclosed in a white, translucent sac known as a fecal sac. This eliminates a nest painted white from droppings; but now the parents have to get rid of the bouncing sacs. They are able to rid the nest of the bagged poop, conveniently deposited directly into their mouths right after feeding, before they leave to find more food. Since the fecal sacs are devoid of bacteria, the adult robins simply eat them.

So there you go. We have bouncing fecal sacs, straight from the tap and swallowed whole.

I'm sure many of you already knew this little tidbit, however I did not. In fact, I am pretty sure I would have been perfectly happy not knowing this for the rest of my life.

I will never again be able to see a robin hopping happily across my yard without immediately thinking about it chowing down on a steamy-fresh, conveniently packaged bag of poop.

Realistically, I knew the poop has to go somewhere, but still. Not what I expected.

Here's a picture of them right before they were fully-fledged, about two weeks after they hatched:

They don't look like they'd have filthy habits, do they? It's kind of like discovering Hugh Grant likes cheap hookers.

Here's a shot of the last fully-catered meal:

The first two chicks took off within minutes of each other, but this last guy was a chicken, and didn't leave the nest until much later in the day. I think he was annoyed with me pointing the camera at him every five minutes:

It was kind of sad to see them go, but at least we can use our side door again. Around five pm on the same night they all left the nest, I heard a commotion outside -- the robins were all screaming at the top of their lungs. I went out onto the back deck and looked up at the tree all the baby robins had flown to, and there was a red-tailed hawk sitting there eying his dinner.

Ah, the circle of life. Normally, I wouldn't care, and I think hawks are just about the coolest birds on the planet, but I had too much invested in these little guys to let the circle be quite that small -- so I chased the hawk away. I know, I know. Between chauffeuring chipmunks around and protecting baby birds, I'm turning into frikkin' St. Francis of Assisi.

I think I'm gonna have to go kill something to rebuild my street cred.


Just the chip of the iceberg.

In the last 13 days, I've captured sixteen chipmunks. Sixteen.

I knew I saw a lot of them running around this year, and my wife has been losing some plants lately, but I had no idea that I was running some sort of chipmunk refugee camp. Because of this problem, I've been reading up on them, and it turns out that they only have a home range of about a 1/2 acre. I'm not sure how many I may have in a 1/2 acre, but I do know I'm not done yet, and the little bastards are wearing me out.

I've been transporting them to a field about a mile away from my house, and letting them go. It's become so ridiculous that I'm running low on almonds and peanut butter. I still have plenty of wheat thins though. A wheat thin with a dab of peanut butter and a whole almond on top, put on a small plastic plate. Yes, that's what they seem to like the best, and yes, I realize I'm making hors d'oeuvres for chipmunks.

When I first started catching them, I didn't know what to expect. They wanted out in the worst way, and I was afraid to get my hands too close because I didn't want rabies or whatever other funky diseases these things might carry. They also tended to piss when you lifted the trap up, and I had no desire to go to work smelling like I got a golden shower from a filthy ground squirrel.

I was pretty careful at first, and I started out by putting the cage on the ground and opening the trap, but after about the 8th or 9th chipmunk, I got tired of squatting down in the brush and taking the risk that a tick might climb up my pant leg and attach itself to my man parts again. Yes, I said "again," but that is a story for another time. Anyway, somewhere along the line I decided to see what what happen if I just opened the trap at chest level. The chipmunks didn't care -- they shot out of there like a cannon. In fact, I started pretending I was Duke Nukem firing my RPG:*

Of course, they didn't actually explode when they hit, but...well, in my mind they did. They're nothing but filthy little forest rats. Very cute filthy little forest rats, but rats nonetheless.

The only one that wasn't so cute had to be the local stud around these parts. He's probably the one responsible for the crazy population explosion. First, he was twice the size of the others and had balls like a fruit bat and he looked kind of greasy, like he just rolled off some chipmunk bimbo and was now making himself a snack in her kitchen. Second, he wasn't scared of me at all. The other chipmunks went completely apeshit when I picked up the trap and carried it to the car -- he just sat there and stared at me through the bars, eating his peanut-butter covered almond as fast as he possibly could. He had a look in his eyes like he was thinking, "As God is my witness, I am finishing this fucking almond before I leave this place."

Right before I took him out of the car, he glanced up at me and then jammed the last of the almond into his cheek. Then he just sat there, waiting for me to open the cage, like he'd done this a dozen times before. When I opened the door, he made a graceful leap to the ground and chattered at me before running into the woods. I'm pretty sure he flipped me off, but I can't be 100% sure.

By now he's probably met up with a bunch of his old crew and he's starting a new colony about a mile from my house -- and you know what? I wish the big-balled bastard luck. He had style. Hopefully he'll take some time out to grab a shower, though, because he smelled like dirty feet and chipmunk cock, and nobody wants to smell that. I'm assuming that includes chipmunk sluts too, but what do I know? Maybe that's his version of Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue.

Only, you know, for chipmunks.

*Yes, I realize that I'm old.


Bad Boys, Bad Boys. Whatcha gonna do?

I got a ticket a couple of weeks ago. No, it wasn't for speeding, or even running a red light. Nothing so glamorous. It was for having an expired inspection sticker. This is generally the kind of luck I have. Let me tell you the story.

The day before I got the ticket, I was driving along a two-lane county highway doing about 50mph when the truck in front of me swerved violently to the right, exposing the car and driver who had apparently decided at the last minute that he/she/it wanted to stop suddenly and turn left, without the benefit of a turn signal -- or even brake lights, for that matter.

This left me with about 2.5 car lengths to figure out what to do, since slamming on my brakes was likely to end with me in his back seat. So I followed the truck. I figured if this giant 4x4 had enough room to get around him on the shoulder, than I did too. The one thing I didn't count on was the extremely large pothole that the giant truck skipped over, and that I, in my Honda Fit, drove into and basically never came out of. My front tire made a noise like a paper bag popping, and I limped into the parking lot of a Dodge dealership with the front end of my car making a pleasant noise reminiscent of someone grinding cinderblocks into a bushel basket full of empty coffee cans.

I got out to assess the damage. The sidewall of the tire didn't look bad, so I thought maybe I'd gotten off lucky. I grabbed the jack, and right around the time I got the front tire off the ground, a guy from the dealership wandered over.

Seeing me with the front of the car jacked up, the lug nuts loosened and the tire almost off, he said (and I quote) "Got some tire trouble?"

Obviously he was an automobile expert, and an asset to Dodge corporation dealerships the world over.

"Yeah, I hit that giant pothole outside of your parking lot and got a flat," I said pleasantly. "But I'm good, I've got the spare, and I'll be out of your way in a minute or two." He nodded, then continued to stand there and watch me, like he had something else to say.

"Am I in the way?" I asked, since I was sort of blocking part of the entrance.

He said "No," and didn't move. I guess it was a slow night. I pulled the tire off and looked at the back. It was bad. The sidewall was blown out, and the edge of the pothole had caught the lip of the aluminum rim and bent it toward the center. I could tell that this was going to cost me.

"Wow, that's pretty bent up," said the genius.

"Yeah, it sure is," I replied.

"That's never going to straighten out," he said.

"Yes, you're probably right," I said.

"You're going to have to get a new one, and those aren't cheap," he said.

Jesus Christ. At that point, I would have given my left nut for an air wrench, or maybe a pit crew. I just wanted to finish up and get back on the road.

"Nothing is cheap on cars anymore," I said, popping the donut tire on and tightening the lugs.

"Can't leave one of those on for long," said the genius, nodding sagely at the donut.

I didn't bother to reply. I just dropped my car back down to the ground, tossed the ruined tire and rim in the car, and drove out of there without looking back. I'm sure my flat tire made for some fascinating dinner conversation for him later on that night.

The next day, I priced out a new rim and tire and the total with mounting and balancing was going to be close to $400, which was complete and utter bullshit; but unless I wanted my car to be a rolling Sesame Street song, I had to do it. I sucked it up and ordered it. Stupid Honda and their stupid expensive crap. Stupid people turning left, stupid potholes and stupid me for not seeing it.

It was going to be a few days before it showed up, and I didn't want to run the donut on the highway for my 2 hour daily commute, so the next day I took my 94 Miata to work.

This is the car that I only drive on really nice days, and I had just put it back on the road for the summer. I glanced at the inspection sticker from inside the car, counted the months backwards and figured out that the month with the hole punched in it was July, so I had some time. The registration was good until 2011, so I was ok there.

It's 5:30am in the morning. I'm doing the speed limit. I'm the only car on the road. Well, that's not entirely true, because the sheriff's deputy was also on the road, and he happens to see me pulling away from a stop sign. He also happens to be about 22 years old, and has nothing better to do at 5:30 in the morning than to pull me over. So of course, that's what he does. He informs me that my inspection sticker had expired, and he asks for my papers. I give them to him, and he disappears back to his car for about 20 minutes, probably to read the manual on proper procedure. When he comes back, he hands me my license and registration and says, "honest mistake, maybe the judge will do something for you," and then hands me my ticket.

Now I'm late for work as well. Stupid kid playing cops and robbers. Stupid me for not knowing the difference between 09 and 10. Stupid morning and aforementioned stupid list from the day before.

Fast forward to last night. I go to court, the judge asks me what I plead, and of course I have to say guilty because, hey, the inspection stickers aren't even that color anymore, and she says, "The fine for driving an uninspected motor vehicle is $50."

I have time to think, "Oh, well, that's not so ba--" and she adds, "...however, there's a mandatory New York State surcharge of $85."

WTF, New York. Just because? Way to trump up some bullshit charge to fill your coffers. How about you take some of that extortion money and maybe keep a state park or two open? Fuckers. Sometimes I really hate this state.

The guy before me in line got reamed even worse. Some girls he knew called him at 1 am drunk at some bar out in the boonies, and wanted him to come pick them up. So he did. Along the way, he apparently drifted over the double yellow on some deserted 2-lane back road in East Bumfuck, and some douchebag cop pulled him over for it.

Stone sober, rescuing some drunk girls, he ended up with a $250 fine and 2 points on his license. Nice guys finish last, I'm telling you. The judge did commend him for his efforts, and take the opportunity to make a little speech about designated drivers, so I'm sure that made him feel good about his decision.

Anyway, after I got over my sticker shock, I went to the cashier's window, paid Carlo and crawled out of the courthouse and into the street.

Grand total of this little escapade: $520.

I will regale you with tales of nature later on this week. She is a harsh and disgusting mistress, as you will see.